Christmas in Prague

My aplogies for the sudden change in url, here the WBSD post that originally got published elsewhere but taken down for personal reasons:

… a journey down memory lane.

When my husband and I moved to Prague (Czech Republic) in fall / autumn of 2008 a journey down memory lane began for me. Being born in Germany, but having lived for 10+ years abroad, it was a bit like coming home for me. Coming home to a cultural environment that seemed utterly familiar to me, with one exception – the language!
Prague and the Czech Republic is in many sense very much like the semi-rural Germany I grew up in some 20 30 40 years ago. Especially “feel-able” is this to me during holidays like Christmas. Christmas in Prague is a bit like the Christmas at home when I was a child, apart of the carps, but more to the fishy bits later. 😉

Christmas in Prague starts late
Really, there is barely any Christmas merchandise and decoration around before the beginning of November. A nice change to the UK where I could see the first “Xmas products” sometimes as early as the end of August! Christmas takes really of here in the Prague with the beginning of advent, fairy tale Christmas markets in the snow (hopefully!) included!

Christmas is on the right day again
Christmas in Prague, like in Germany, is divided into three days: 24th Christmas Eve with presents under the Christmas tree, a huge family meal and for a lot of people Midnight Mass in church. The first day of Christmas (25th) is dedicated mainly to recover from the huge meal of the previous evening and families with smaller kids prefer often to go to church this day as services are a bit more children orientated and at a time smaller children are still awake and not “grumpy” because of being over-tired. The second day (26th) is often dedicated to visits and parties amongst family and friends. It is the last chance to get all these high caloric Christmas cookies eaten before you are stuck with them for the rest of the year! Nothing anymore with getting your presents one day to late! Oh, before you wonder, yes, the Czech Republic is one of the most secular countries in Europe but still, midnight mass / church service is still a stable part of the Christmas celabrations of many families, expats and Czech alike.

Christmas Cookies
Like in my native Germany Christmas cookies are here a deadly serious affair. Deadly because of the incredible amount of calories in each cookie / biscuit and serious because it is a matter of housewifely pride to produce as many different varieties as humanly possible and at least one variety more as your next door neighbor! Only one problem, everybody does it, so getting them “under the people” and eaten is a real challenge! It is important to have a) as much different varieties as possible b) always have more then enough for everybody (running out on Christmas cookies is a Czech – and German!- housewife’s’ worst nightmare and c) get them all eaten by the end of Christmas! Serving Christmas cookies to guests after Christmas is a bad idea as by then, nobody in the whole country is able to eat one single cookie more! 😉

Typical Prague Christmas food
If there is anything like a typical Prague Christmas dish then it is fish -carp to be precisely. The last days running up to Christmas huge water tanks full with carps (see images below) appear in the streets and the blood of the freshly killed fish is running down the gutters of the streets -literally. (no photos of that one, for the sake of the more sensitive ones of my readers!) What reminds me of a carp Christmas story from my own childhood: My father, a big angler before the Lord brought home one day, shortly before Christmas, a living carp. As he wanted to keep the fish as fresh and tasty as possible he put it, still alive, into the bath tub. Now, if you ever met me you know that I try to close friendship with every living being that I come across, so no wonder, over the next days I spent more and more time with “Karpie”. I hand-fed him and soon the fish learned that when my little head poked over the bath tub rim, there was food close by 😉 “Karpie” and I became friends. On Christmas day, in the afternoon, my father explained to me that it was now time to say “Good Bye!” to “Karpie” because he would become our — diner! To cut a long story short, I threw such a toddler tantrum that the next day saw me, my Dad and “Karpie” approaching the next lake and releasing my new friend into freedom 😉 Somehow, since then, my father never agin brought a live fish home!

So I hope you enjoyed to travel with me back down christmassy memory lane, to find the next blog post in the WBSD chain, just scroll down below the images! See you and Happy Christmas!!!

Buying Live Carp from Tubs on the Street for Christmas Eve, Prague


Vendor Fishing out Live Carp from Large Tub on the Street for Christmas Eve, Prague


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The next blog post in the WBSD chain can be found at
Empty Nest Expat which is written by Karen and for all the background info about what WBSD actually is you may kindly stop by What the is WBSD?

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35 comments to Christmas in Prague

  • […] This was my contribution to WBSD and I’m asked to link next to an expat blogger I know rather well, Hospitalera who blogs who blogs about ‘Christmas in Prague‘. […]

  • How refreshing to know that there are some parts of the world that don’t feel the need to over-saturate their populace with Christmas decorations, etc. starting two to three months before Christmas. That must be a really nice feeling.

    Love the pictures! Thanks for sharing them.

  • I won’t ask about the change in post location… but I think my comment there related to being amazed, because I would never have imagined that fish, let alone specifically carp, would be associated with Christmas!

  • hospitalera

    @Noel
    Yes, there is a fine line between decoration and commercialization. SY

    @*lynne*
    Thanks for not asking 😉 I am not sure why, but fish is a quite popular Christmas dish here in Europe, perhaps because it is one of the oldest Christian symbols? SY

  • My original comment was about the Christmas cookies! It reminded me of an office where I used to work and everyone participated in a Christmas cookie exchange. Each person brought a plateful of home baked cookies into work and then we’d exchange, so everyone ended up with a plateful of mixed cookies – one from every person participating. It was great fun and a great way to have a wonderful selection. Even better if you exchange recipes too! Thanks for a great post. These WBSD entries have been fascinating, not just because of the entries themselves, but because it has taken me to so many different blogs that I probably wouldn’t have discovered otherwise!
    .-= Judy´s last blog ..Choosing your Currency =-.

  • Thank you so so much for sharing this wonderful piece. I just went on my first trip to Europe, and I totally fell in love. For me, in spite of never having been there, I instantly felt at home in a way I never have in the States. I have been strangely drawn to Eastern Europe my entire life, and though I didn’t make it to that area on the first trip, hopefully I will soon. I enjoyed reading about the traditional aspects of Christmas that still go on in the CR, and it gives me hope, as someone who has a birthday in early December, that there really are places on earth where Christmas doesn’t ooze into life until closer to around the time it should, as opposed to say, July or August. LOL Thanks again for sharing.
    .-= Noelle@ Wooden Christmas Ornaments´s last blog ..Do Follow Blog, Uses Comment Luv and Keyword Luv =-.

  • Ron

    I absolutely love Prague! I personally think it is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. I have never been there around Christmas though.

  • hospitalera

    @Judy
    Cookie exchange sounds like the ultimate Czech dream to me, I can see them exchanging cookies, recipes and counting who can show off the most variety and “out number” the others! I am sure they would love this here! Thanks for re-commenting, and yes, WBSD is great fun! SY

  • hospitalera

    @ Noelle
    No wonder that you have a name like that with a birthday close to Christmas 😉 Give me a shout when you make it to Prague and I’ll show you around the Golden City 😉 SY

  • hospitalera

    @Ron
    You should, it is absolutely beautiful, especially when we are lucky like last year and have snow! SY

  • Yeah, Europe is best of all destinations i saw, and Vatican was my favorite, if you really want to taste real Christianity then East- Europe is the best of all and i love Prague, got to learn something new today, thanks for sharing it.

  • I’ve never been to Eastern Europe but have always wanted to go. Maybe one day …

    I spent many of my growing up years in Asia so I can imagine the smells of all those barrels of fresh fish. Loved your Karpie story!

  • John

    Wow, I must say (and I don’t say this with the intention of offending anyone) I’m surprised that people go to midnight mass on the eve of Christmas in Prague. This is a tradition that happens a lot only in Christian-dominated countries/territories.

    Have a Happy Christmas! 🙂

  • ???????? ??????????

    Andy, a very interesting post thanks for writing it!

  • The fish are well on that tanks.
    .-= Brandon´s last blog ..How to Score a Tennis Ball Machine Sale =-.

  • Sounds absolutely wonderful! As you say, the UK has gone mad – it’s still early November and already all of the shops are full of Christmas gifts, and most of the adverts on TV are for Christmas too. In fact I remember seeing a news report back in early October about a couple who already had all their Christmas decorations up!

  • I often feel like people are losing the attraction towards celebrating religious festivals. Two factors that affecting this are commercialization of festivals and youth’s inclination away from religion. All said, I like the Christmas decorations in UK. Haven’t been to eastern Europe yet, I always assumed that the celebrations would more or less remain same; but looks like it’s a carpful christmas. Tankful of carps, amazing 😉

  • hospitalera

    @Sean John
    You are welcome! SY

    @AJ
    As it is winter, the smell is actually not too bad 😉 SY

    @John
    Why are you surprised? In the end Christmas comes from “Christ” and is the celebration of his birth. This tradition exists everywhere were Christians are present, not only in what you call “Christian-dominated countries/territories” what, btw, the Czech Republic is not at all. The Czech Republic is one of the most secular countries in Europe and surely not “dominated by Christians”. SY

    @???????? ??????????
    You are welcome, but my name is not Andy ;-( SY

    @Brandon
    Not really, the tanks are very overfilled and the fish fight for oxygen and are under continuous stress until they are killed ;-( SY

    @Pete
    True, here I have nearly the opposite problem in buying my Christmas shopping in advance as decorations and the like hit the shelves relatively late. On the other hand, as we traveled through Croatia, we saw houses and even Churches that kept their Christmas deco up all year round 😉 SY

    @Matt
    Yes, when a festival gets detached from its original meaning it becomes only “empty commerce” unfortunately, SY

  • Wow, all year round Christmas, that’s pretty impressive! I wouldn’t fancy that though, it’d lose its appeal and wouldn’t seem special any more if it was happening ALL the time.

    As for your Christmas present problem, maybe you should take a shopping trip to the UK 😉

  • hospitalera

    @Pete
    Yes, it looks somehow funny, especially as they are not lit! The stars and so on just hang around and wait until its Christmas again and get to shine 😉 SY
    PS Next trip to the UK (Scotland) is scheduled for next June, a bit early for Christmas shopping 😉

  • Very odd! Having said that, I have a feeling they do it in the town where I live – I think that’s mainly down to laziness though! And yeah I think June is DEFINITELY too early for Christmas shopping, even in the UK!

  • That would be weird not to see any commercial Christmas decorations crowding all the stores in early November! My family is from Germany, but I still have yet to visit any of those areas, let alone Prague. It sounds wonderful!

  • hospitalera

    @Pete

    Correct 😉 SY

    @Chuggin

    Where about is your family from ion Germany? And Prague should be definitively on your list of places to visit when you come to “our neck of the wood”. SY

  • yes its still time now for Christmas to come but sounds absolutely wonderful! the UK has gone mad – I think recession has no effect on mind of people for celebrations and parties, lol.

  • hospitalera

    @Jamie Xuereb
    Yes, people will overspend this Christmas again on things that are not essential. You are right, the recession affect things like this very little, SY

  • This year Black Friday is going to be out of this world given how we are still coming out of this bad economy. I almost cannot wait to see all the amazing deals I am going to get.

  • hospitalera

    @body armor
    Lol, that is a typical American thing, we don’t have that here in Europe! SY

  • Oh, I absolutely love Prague. I visited the city in the summer time but saw plenty of pictures and paintings to make me want to come back in the winter. Christmas would be so much fun there.
    .-= Bill@movie trailers´s last blog ..Glee Episode 10: Ballad =-.

  • hospitalera

    @Bill
    Yes, it is, the town is simply magical when it snows, give me a shout when you come back to Prague and I invite you to a pivo, SY

  • That is soo intresting, thanks i love reading about Christmas in different cultures!

  • hospitalera

    @Payday Loan Software
    You are welcome, btw, where do you live? SY

  • Mike

    I often feel like people are losing the attraction towards celebrating religious festivals. Two factors that affecting this are commercialization of festivals and youth’s inclination away from religion. I like the Christmas decorations in Australia, yet we lack the snow to make it a white Christmas.

    • hospitalera

      Yes, first faith becomes religion and then religion becomes commerce, sad isn’t it? BTW, you don’t need snow to celebrate CHRISTmas 😉 SY

  • Beautiful Russian Lady

    I’m in love with this wonderful city and like to know more about it. I want to visit it very much. I hope next Christmas I’ll celebrate in Prague:) Thanks for your post!